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tv   Open Phones with David Mc Cullough  CSPAN  December 24, 2015 9:35pm-10:16pm EST

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walks of life who actually were in the audience, it was a great discussion. it was like the beginning of a discussion. book tv thanks you. and we're going to do this again in february. >> from the white house and the presidency. >> at this year's national book festival in washington dc we will be taking any new >> joins us here.
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the wright brothers mr. mcauliffe, who funded the wright brothers? >> they did. the only funding they had was what they took from the rather modest earnings on the bicycle shop. they virtually made everything that they were in need of. with the exception of the motor that they had for the flying machine which was made of aluminum, their idea. i was made for them in a small startup company, as we would call it today, aluminum company of america.
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the 1st aluminum engine ever built. when it was 1st used it split. rather than saying i guess that's not going to work they built another one. the 2nd one did not split and produced more horsepower than they expected. a wonderful example not only of their innovative capacity to solve problems but when something did not work they did not give up. i never gave up about anything. their perseverance against the odds is a life lesson that i think we can all benefit from. >> we are going to put the phone numbers up because we want to give you a chance to talk to david mccullough. he has written about paris another brothers. 202 748 8200.
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we also are taking texts. if you would like to text an idea or question 202 465 6842. you can also contact us via social media. we will put those addresses up as well as we talk. you say they self-funded. did they die wealthy? >> yes, they did, but not super rich. not like some of the so-called robber barons of the day. orval more so than wilbur because what were died early tragically in 1912. he never really see -- you never really lived to see great income. they were never in it for the money.
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they had been raise on the idea that a good life is a life of high purpose. and they were not bothered by the fact that they had no money, no college education, people thought they were crackpots and they were made fun of and ignored even after they had proven they can buy and it -- fly an airplane. >> after december 1, 1903. >> it took five more years for the world to admit that human beings have fly. happened in france is nobody wanted to accept the fact that these minute done something miraculous. that was one of the most
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difficult and presumably impossible technological problems ever in the history by doing so it changed history, change the world really nothing else ever has. much more than the invention of the telephone or libel. >> i really don't know. something happened. i think that's it. but this won't happen because i had just finished a book on americans he went to paris, their abilities as architects, doctors, painters, sculptors, writers because the training of the kind they do that they needed was not available.
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the medical schools were way beyond those in europe. the medical school in paris was the greatest in the world. and i take that up until 1900. i got so intrigued with this little known fact of american life that i was carrying it into the 20th century, and in doing so i found out about the wright brothers in france, something i had never imagined. and once i started reading about them as human beings, not just as miracle workers, i realize this is a book i wanted to do. the 19th or 20th century idea. and i thank my lucky stars that i did.
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so infinitely fascinating and full of so many surprises about how different they were from what most people imagined. >> brad in endicott, new york. >> well, -- >> brad, we are listening. please go ahead. >> yearbook on the wright brothers and i did not realize that a piecea piece of that plane went up with neil armstrong in 1969. >> sorry, i couldn't here. >> i think he said something about he just finished your book and that there was a piece of the plane taken to the moon with neil armstrong. >> yes. neil armstrong carried a swatch of the canvas that was the covering for the wings with him to the moon.
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he did not leave it there but he took it as a symbol of their heritage, if you will, their allegiance and gratitude for what the wright brothers had done. they saw it as an extension of what they were doing neil armstrong also given the same section of ohio the 1st human beings ever to fly in the motor powered aircraft, 1st human being to set foot on the moon both came from the same neighborhood as it were. >> in fact, chris from tampa texts into you they were
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aware of it. and they were way ahead of the competition. that which we call when working. they went to france to demonstrate what they had achieved, the great french aviators so we are the children. so far ahead of us it's almost heartbreaking. >> the next call from quincy, illinois. >> honored to ask a question.
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why did president adams who had been a great attorney and the fair and reasonable man ever signed the sedition act and why was that act enforced during his presidency so vigorously against the supporters of thomas jefferson, many of whom were imprisoned for criticizing john adams and his administration? >> the signing of the sedition act was a grievous mistake on the part of president adams. he himself never got involved with it. he realized that this was a mistake and had nothing to do with it once it was passed. yes, it was wrong. yes, it was against fundamental base, the
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american faith, asfaith, as it were. but if you look at how relatively few people were imprisoned it was a mild mistake rather than one of great consequence. i don't know of a president who did not make a mistake in office. and it is a shame when they do but then again history is about human beings. history is human. >> here is another text from the indianapolis area. which president had the most consequential career after the presidential term ended? >> john quincy adams. >> y? >> he went back and served in congress. and that was his star performance. he was for all the right things and fought for them until his dying day and died with his boots on on the
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floor of the house of representatives. john quincy adams is a vastly underrated american. we don't give much attention to one term presidents. he was a very great man. intellectually iq level, however you want to, you may he may have been the most brilliant human being ever to occupy the office. >> if you want to text in a question
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>> they wanted the other one to still be alive and carry out their mission. and it was a mission to which they gave total devotion excluding almost everything else would think of as a normal life. he never married or when on vacation. they were committed to their work much the way the father was an itinerant businessman and committed to his work. and their objective was a mission. it was not just -- one of
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the misunderstandings, it was not just they invented the airplane which in itself would have been a phenomenal accomplishment. but they invented how to fly it. they learned to fly it. they were the 1st test pilots ever testing something that nobody else had ever tested. the world would never had such a machine available. >> what is the next book on? >> i don't know. >> my good idea is to take this call from cathy. you are on. >> i thoroughly enjoyed the wright brothers. i am a delta airlines employee and further appreciation of line. my question is the patents that really take to help them, do they ever established between the five do they get credit for that?
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>> well, in existence not long after the way work. they knew about it but felt it was superior. curtis used it. but no. i don't think so. they felt that what they had done was exactly what was necessary at the time. have they live longer he might have changed. the answer to your question, did they wear him down? i don't think there's any question about it. he was washed out.
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they all were worried about them. he lost weight, was pale and on edge. then one of them all there lives. we take clean water for granted. >> from matthew who ask him i recall mr. mcculloch same president kennedy inspired him to public service. discussed part of his life and how he changed career paths. >> i would be delighted to. it has been a very long time since president of the united states is called upon us all to do something for our country.
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too often spending time. president kennedy made that summons, give that magnificent eloquent summons in his inaugural address i took it entirely the heart and give it up to do something to serve my country. and i wound up working at the us information agency. which also happens to england by edward r murrow. for the next three years i have a huge privilege of the graduate school glory of working for the us information agency. changed my life.
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i suddenly found myself with ambition to write a book. once i got started on it, i knew this is what i wanted to do. >> up next. >> i was going to ask you what is that a reasonable place to learn to fly?
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first of all the grandmother was among a large crowd. they are nice young men. a little off the balance. as you say, 8 miles out, part of the wright-patterson air force base. because it is part of the air force base is preserved is exactly the way it was. but when on this far more important than people realize. the plane that they flew in kitty hawk was not a practical airplane yet. took three more years to develop a practical airplane. the real airplane, one that
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people can learn how to fly a flight was born at some. >> do you think the wright brothers hinder progress of american aviation? >> no. no more so than alexander graham bell hindered the development when alexander graham bell, you sound. no. and all you have to do is look at what happened. almost no time. does not recognize the reality until 1980. the plane that was used in world war ii for world war i
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was vastly different, and that more advanced plane developed in just those seven years, eight years since the wright brothers claim to be a reality. the acceleration progress was beyond anyone's imagining. orval right lived to see the death, rockets, the horrible devastation. world war i and world war ii. wilbur wright did not see world war i. it did not hold back the advance of aviation whatsoever. >> calling in from dallas, pennsylvania. >> just wanted to know how
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often i have read his books and enjoyed them. why did it take american so long to get behind the wright brothers and their ideas? the french seem to get on board quickly. i just wondered why. thank you. flying the plane almost every day a miles outside of the reporters and editors would not even bothered to come out to see for themselves pose happening. some years later one of the is editors of the paper was
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asked how could that be. he said i guess we were just plain stupid. the 1st person, the 1st eyewitness to publish an accurate account of their in this immensely important breakthrough, change in history was a beekeeper of the northeast ohio in amos route to see for himself what was happening. wrote an article about it, beekeeper's journal. and that was the 1st complete accurate account that the airplane had arrived ever published. and he was not blinded when
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everything you, despite that king has no clothes. tom hanks will be making a movie for hbo based on this book. and i can't wait to see who he casts. i have some ideas. >> do you have any input? >> very much so. and i think the world of tom hanks. i love a beautiful orchid does.
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>> from philadelphia area. an aspiring writer. excellent storytelling and billion research. how do you find your voice? >> i assume you mean my voice as a writer. by writing. there's only one way to learn how to write. and write and rewrite and learn to edit yourself, the hardest part of it all. separate writer you from the editor you. but that is shown the muggy road this how to make it work. one way to do that is to take what you have written and put it on shelf for a couple weeks or more.
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then take a fresh look. you will see things about it you did not see what you were writing it. very helpful way to learn to write is to have someone read aloud to you. try to write for the year as well as the eye. you will here things about it that you don't necessarily see. the fact is you suddenly become very. you will here that. my wife is readily everything i have written in the last 50 years and still does and that means series and maybe three or four times. i hear things, she hears things. >> do you enjoy the book tour? >> i love it.
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it's very gratifying. i love meeting my readers. no writer can survive without readers. i am dependent upon readers. it's like not daring to meet your customers command i love to hear what they think , what they like about what i have done what they feel might have been better. whatwhat they would like me to write about the next time. >> the next call comes from tom and indiana. >> i really love your book. i live here. the bishop picture in my little town. born just a few miles here in millville. i was surprised to learn all
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the support i was a little saddened at the end that they kind of had a fallinga falling out and was wondering if that was ever resolved or not. >> the bishop was their father was a bishop in the church. in the sister was catholic. and, yes, i was very surprised to learn how important the father was, how important the sister was in one of the joys of my work on this project was to bring both of them front and center. because they were part of the joint effort, and you
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can't leave people like that out. the sister was far more important than people realize. i feel that if she had not been there and been part of it the store would not have come out as it did. always there when they needed. keep your spirits up when they needed it, and she was very bright and funny and can be sharp she thought that somebody was not behaving. and of course the father was inspirational all there lives and never lost faith. the not really understand the technology available working with. very few people did. they were brilliant businesses, aeronautical engineers solving problems that intellectual problems
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that nobody had even gotten anywhere near as far as they did. and yet they had never been to college, never finished high school. that never held them back. grover was a genius, no question about it which is important to understand. as to the father. >> from andrew in virginia, fantastic book. are you surprised teddy roosevelt did not embrace the wright brothers? >> well, he did and he didn't. he had the nerve, the courage to go down in the summary, the 1st president to ever go down the submarine. this is not exactly a safe move.
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and it was leaked from the white house to the press that he was thinking very seriously of going out over to fort myer across the river. to go up when he was doing demonstration flights. and all right was very upset by that and told people he did not think the president of the united states should take such a risk. he insisted on it. a few days young thomas, lieutenant in the army when up with him and he crashed and was killed. so i theodore roosevelt chose nessie wanted to do in my well and been the one. >> a suggestion for your next book.
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your bio. >> that might be awful steamy. i might. i might. i've got a lot of stories to tell about the people i have met along the way. so grateful for the help they have given in the windows they have thrown open and the friendships i've made. and the things i have learned. >> robert in west lafayette indiana you are on. >> i'm a big fan. i think him for showing. >> regimens michigan.
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>> my wife and i have the opportunity to hear you speak. >> the french or way ahead of us in medicine and technology, engineering, science. the french also had the best medical training in the world. and so that was not available here. part of the problem was that
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cadavers were illegal and much of our country. therefore if anyone wanted understand anatomy all the cadavers sold on the black market as it were were very expensive. even the doctors themselves did not have access to cadavers to show the workings of the. whereas in france there was no such ruling. they could spend days, months doing nothing but dissecting bodies. one of the beneficiaries of that was oliver wendell holmes senior taught anatomy
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and the section. but that's only the one example. we are far more indebted to the french in many fields than we realize. >> how much time you spend in paris? >> a good deal, but not as much as most people would imagine. the letters these medical students wrote home. many of them were the sons of doctors and the fathers wanted to know what's the latest. they were at the very forefront of technological experimentation in progress. they did not want to be left behind.
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doing fine working on staying out of trouble, but they were learning every day. those letters are absolutely phenomenal and are all available at the harvard medical school library in boston. >> the last question or comment. who was the last president to write his own speeches? what are your thoughts? >> that is a good question. my guess is theodore roosevelt. and i think that the power of the presidency communicates with the country, somewhat diminished by that. that is not to say that they
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have written some of the most powerful parts of the speech as they made or pronouncements they have issued. john kennedy was a very good writer. some presence had wonderful writers for the scripts. also george hw bush when he became president. , they were great speeches.
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words are much more important than many people realize. i remember when hillary clinton was running last time and she accused her competition, using words is a huge part of leadership. they have all had the power of communication, lincoln, theodore roosevelt, jack kennedy, words matter and carry-on for the following generations. we still quote this. imagine martin luther king without the power of his words. that is why it is important that we all learn to use the english language. one of the startling marvelous aspects of the wright brothers was the quality of the letters of the wrote. it was not just that they
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were correct grammatically, they were powerful and effective clear and could be funny and touching. they were incapable of writing a short letter or a boring one. that's where it is. i would've wanted to have written my book about the wright brothers even if they had not succeeded in their mission. so much is there learn from their attitude toward life and the value of having purpose in life, remaining modest. modesty is so out of fashion the day that it is disheartening.
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bicycle mechanics he never went to college and never had wealth, gentlemen if ever there were. and when they got to europe and suddenly became famous and were associated with royalty they never felt the least inferior because they have been raised to behave as gentlemen. and why should they feel inferior? certainly they were as well read as anyone of the time, maybe better. >> anytime your in washington

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